Colorado needs to return hundreds of millions of dollars to its taxpayers, plus interest, because new “taxes” assessed over the past few years for bridge repairs never were approved by voters, as required by the state constitution, according to a new lawsuit.

The action was brought by the Mountain States Legal Foundation, a non-profit, public-interest legal organization dedicated to individual liberties, the free enterprise system, limited government and the right to own and use property.

“In clear violation of [the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights], the general assembly enacted and [the Colorado Department of Transportation] implemented a scheme to levy taxes and raise revenues without a vote of the people of Colorado,” said William Perry Pendley, a spokesman for the MSLF.

It was in 2009 when the state legislature passed Senate Bill 09-108, which was called the “FASTER” bill. It provided the creation of the Colorado Bridge Enterprise, a government-owned business chartered to repair and maintain bridges.

Previously, that work had been done directly by the state road department, which is run by an 11-member board. That same board now runs the “Bridge Enterprise.” In addition, CDOT’s executive director is the chief of the Bridge Enterprise, and the state agency’s chief financial officer is the CFO of the enterprise.

The law collects a “bridge safety surcharge” whenever a vehicle is registered anywhere in Colorado, the lawsuit explains.

But it’s actually a tax, since “almost half of Colorado’s 64 counties will receive no direct benefit from the Bridge Enterprise.” Nevertheless, residents still must pay the “same bridge tax as residents of the counties allegedly benefited by the tax,” the lawsuit explains.

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